Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder are complex brain disorders that strike in early childhood. As the diagnosis of these disorders grows at an alarming rate, the need for programs that focus on the Autistic Spectrum is rising. Additionally, the diagnosis of Autism has increased tenfold in the last decade, affecting four times as many boys as girls. Today, Easterseals, Inc. is the country's leading provider of services for people with Autism.
In response to this trend our Connecticut affiliate, in conjunction with other community and educational providers, has developed a program to carefully assess, diagnose and treat children and parents concerned with these unusual and confusing behaviors. The collaboration of all parties involved helps to ensure that the child's plan of care is consistent across different environments. Although the program accepts teenagers and adults, the primary patients served are toddlers and younger children, thus allowing the neuropsychologists to gain the earliest diagnosis.
The commonality among those diagnosed with these disorders is the individual's difficulty with social skills. when a patient begins their treatment with Easterseals, the diagnosis and identification process is initiated with extensive neuropsychological testing including an IQ and social skills assessment as well as testing of academic performance, language, visual-spatial-motor skills, motor coordination and dexterity, memory and learning, attention, executive function (problem solving and reasoning) and emotional functioning. After the evaluation is completed, recommendations are written as a blueprint for the treatments that will best benefit the patient. The treatment plan consists of therapies including, academic and school placement modifications, supportive therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training.
The evaluation and treatment plan produces a framework for understanding between the parent and child. Effective treatment of the child with Autism requires multi-provider involvement, especially parental education. "For Parents, it is most important to learn how to better understand and relate to their child." said Howard M. Goldfischer, Psy.D., a Clinical Neuropsychologist at Easterseals. "Although there is a strong complexity to the disorders on the Autistic Spectrum, the Easterseals program helps to create a code for understanding these disorders, for both the parent and child."